FA set to hit Bellamy with suspension

MANCHESTER CITY’S attacking options are set to shrink further today when Craig Bellamy is expected to be charged for confronting a pitch invader during Sunday’s tempestuous defeat at local rivals United.

The Football Association was yesterday studying video footage of the incident, in which Bellamy appears to put his hand in the face of the spectator who ran onto the field in the dying seconds of City’s 4-3 loss. Should the FA deem the Welsh forward’s actions to constitute violent conduct, and then find him guilty, he can expect to receive a three-match ban. A more minor charge of improper conduct is likely to carry a one-match ban.

City assistant manager Mark Bowen said yesterday the club would not punish Bellamy for the clash. “No. I don’t think there is any need to,” said Bowen. “Craig was going to the fella to say in no uncertain terms to get off the pitch. He came very close and Craig, with an open hand, just pushed the fella away.”

City are already without top scorer Emmanuel Adebayor, who is serving a three-match ban for violent conduct, after raking Arsenal striker Robin van Persie’s head with his boot. Adebayor, who was also charged with improper conduct for celebrating a goal in front of Gunners fans but is contesting the accusation, is just one of City’s sidelined superstars. Record buy Robinho is nursing a stress fracture to his ankle, while Roque Santa Cruz has been denied a debut by his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

The FA’s scrutiny of events at Old Trafford has involved contact with Greater Manchester Police, who yesterday charged a 21-year-old man with invading the pitch, and has not been limited to the Bellamy incident. City substitute Javier Garrido’s claim that he was hit by a coin thrown from the crowd is being probed by the FA and police, while the FA is also examining United defender Gary Neville’s reaction to Michael Owen’s winner.